The Cumberland County Playhouse and Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce held a forum this evening at the Cumberland County Playhouse for the seven men contending for the upcoming May 1, 2018 Republican primary for county mayor. Here are the seven men running for the seat:
TIM CLAFLIN – From Massachusetts, now residing in Cumberland County and has done so for the past 12 years. He served in the U.S. Navy and is the current Cumberland County jail administrator and a current county commissioner.
ALLEN FOSTER – Born and raised in Cumberland County. Foster is a former school board member, former school board chairman and current county commissioner.
J.C. HANCOCK – Born and raised in Cumberland County. Has 28 years experience in law enforcement and is currently a detective with the Crossville Police Department. Also a former student resource officer in Cumberland County schools.
RANDALL KIDWELL – 56 years old and a biologist. Graduated from Tennessee Tech and Mississippi State University. He serves as an environmental consultant.
DOUG SCARLETT – Previously served as a county mayor twice in another state. A veteran of the military, Scarlett also served as a chief cook on Air Force One. Served on boards for county organizations including Good Samaritans in Cumberland County.
LIGUE WISDOM – Lifelong resident of Cumberland County and retired businessman. Attended Tennessee Tech.
DANNY WYATT – Current City of Crossville councilman and former mayor pro tem of Crossville. Lifelong resident of Cumberland County.
Here are the nine questions asked and each response:
1. If elected, will you support placing a student resource officer in each school in Cumberland County?
All nine responded yes
2. What knowledge and experience do you have that qualifies you for county mayor?
HANCOCK – “I have worked with both the city and county entities for a long time and that gave me great experience into the position of county mayor”
WISDOM – “served as a leader of my own business and ran the business with a budget for years. A county government is like a running a business and the money must be spent wisely”
SCARLETT – “I have experience as a county mayor twice in the past in another state. I will focus on getting businesses into the county and higher wages for workers”
FOSTER – “experience is a key factor in this election for county mayor. I have a masters in business and in leadership and over a decade of experience in Cumberland County government”
WYATT – “A county mayor is the administrator of citizens tax dollars. I have worked for nearly 8 years in helping to balance funds in the City of Crossville
CLAFLIN – “I have experience in being the jail administrator, a county commissioner and my service in the Navy. I have excelled in every position I have held”
KIDWELL – “I don’t agree that you have to be in politics to know what you’re doing to run a county effectively. I have a lot of experience in my work field”
3. What is your plan to promote economic growth in Cumberland County?
HANCOCK – “A county mayor should be the biggest advocate for jobs coming into Cumberland County. We can become the economic hub for the state with plans I have if elected”
WISDOM – “to have a positive attitude in promoting the growth. We can make it work by working together with the chamber and the city to bring new businesses here. I feel Cumberland County is the best place to bring new businesses to”
FOSTER – “I take the success of Cumberland County personally. We have developed tools to attract new businesses and I can make that happen as county mayor”
WYATT – “The City of Crossville added 250 new jobs in the past 4 to 5 years by giving credit incentives to businesses. The city and county need to work together to go after prospective new businesses to get them to come to Cumberland County”
CLAFLIN – “putting together an advertising package showing prospective companies exactly what Cumberland County has to offer them if they relocate here”
KIDWELL – “I have seen businesses here and nearby close. We need to rebuild and go after new prospective companies to come to and operate in Cumberland County”
4. Will you work to see that the city and county entities as well as the chamber all cooperate for the benefit of Cumberland County?
All seven responded yes
5. What is the greatest challenge facing Cumberland County?
HANCOCK – “the lack of progress in the county”
WISDOM – “the small size of the emergency services in the county. We have over 1,100 miles of road in this county and we need to find a way to grow our emergency services”
SCARLETT – “We need to get control of the drug problem here”
FOSTER – “how to use resources to do the most good for the county”
WYATT – “we need more water storage. Without it, we can’t move forward”
CLAFLIN – “economic growth”
KIDWELL – “the Cumberland Habitat Conservation Plan that would put the county in danger of being under federal control for a time”
6. What should the role of the county be in addressing the job issue?
All seven echoed working with the schools and colleges to make sure students are prepared to enter the workforce. Also, bring businesses to the county that will offer good pay so younger workers can afford to live here and restoring work ethics with the young workers.
7. What are the top capital projects needed in Cumberland County?
HANCOCK – “water storage and providing quality internet services to most of the county”
WISDOM – “having a schedule of growth for the county, water storage and having good communication with the government entities”
SCARLETT – “Water, sewer and roads”
FOSTER – “emergency services needs, more police cars and more items that need to be addressed”
WYATT – “improve solid waste, work with the board of education on school needs and roads”
CLAFLIN – “EMS needs, quality internet service and the construction of a convention center and hotel at the community complex property”
KIDWELL – “water and sewer needs”
8. How will you support the growth of tourism in Cumberland County?
HANCOCK – “we have a lot to offer in tourism in Cumberland County. We need to get the word out to people that way they can come be a part of the great sights we offer”
WISDOM – “Communicate with the chamber to enhance the tourism in the county”
SCARLETT – “to have all entities in the county to work together to maximize tourism growth”
FOSTER – “outdoor activities are big in Cumberland County and needs to be capitalized on. Promote all tourism spots in the county together to draw more people to Cumberland County”
WYATT – “continue to focus on tourism to help keep taxes low”
CLAFLIN – “ensure funding to continue to promote tourism and look at building a convention center to increase tourism dollars”
KIDWELL – “construct a covered venue to bring entertainment in therefore increasing tourism”
9. Assuming local government cost will increase, what would be a good alternative source of revenue?
HANCOCK – “cost will continue to rise despite best efforts. We need a full time grant writer that can help and make the best use of our current facilities. Also to consider building an indoor arena”
WISDOM – “look at the budget and see about consolidation of same services to save money, Our revenue must equal our expenditures”
SCARLETT – “I want to see the public come forward with ideas on how we can do this. My door will always be open to ideas”
FOSTER – “We have the second lowest property tax rate in the state which is attractive to new businesses and their employees. We need to be smart with the money spent and with applying for grants to help with costs”
WYATT – “work on tourism and retirement development. A lot of money used on projects in Cumberland County comes from tourism”
CLOFLIN – “ensure spending tax money wisely. We need industries and businesses here to help increase revenue”
KIDWELL – “$44,000 is the median income in Cumberland County and 30 percent of our population is over the age of 65. We have to grow our economy and restore the middle class here”
The seven then answered a question submitted from the audience for them. The forum closed with final remarks from the candidates. The primary election will be held May 1, 2018. Early voting will be from April 11-26. Another candidate for county mayor, Sandy Davis, is running as an independent and will appear on the August general election ballot.